Critics of EVMs fall silent after victory: Former CEC

Chennai: Taking a dig at few winners in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections who had made an issue of so-called rigged Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami observed that these critics had fallen silent now and gave praised the ‘Janata Janardhan’(supreme public mandate) for their victory.

Speaking on ‘Indian Elections And Enduring Myths’ at the SRM Institute of Science and Technology today, Gopalaswami, who had supervised the 15th Lok Sabha elections, flayed the rampant fake news relating to the EVMs over the years even though they were stand alone machines not connected to any online system. This fake news had created one of the biggest myths of Indian democracy that EVMs were tamperable and could be meddled with.

He recalled that Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amrinder Singh had challenged the use of EVMs in the State’s High Court in 2002 but trials failed to prove his charge and he had fallen silent after he won. In 1982 one contestant had challenged EVMs in the Kerala High Court but the court did not agree.

He said BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao in a book in 2009 had faulted the EVMs for the party’s defeat and Dr Subramaniam Swamy had cited US experts to claim that EVMs could be tampered with. However, the matter could not be proved. Later a US expert at a gathering in Chennai had emphatically said that stand alone machines could not be tampered with.

He said the latest trend of demanding Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails attached to EVMs had also not put the controversy over EVMs at rest.

On the proposal by the Modi government for ‘One Nation, One Election’, Gopalaswami said the EC had conducted simultaneous elections to state assemblies and the Lok Sabha in 1951-52, 1957, 1962 and 1967 and there was no reason why it could not be done again. ‘This will require
constitutional amendments but that can not be a hurdle,’ he said. ‘But will we do it, I have my doubts,’ he added.

NT Bureau